One of the most critically acclaimed young violinists to emerge in the late '90s, Hilary Hahn gained an enthusiastic international audience and won several Grammys before she reached the age of 18.
As is the case with many violin virtuosos, Hahn was anything if not precocious. She began studying the violin a Baltimore Suzuki class just before she turned four and started working with a private tutor, Klara Berkovich, about a year later. Hahn would work with her for the next five years at Peabody Prep, after which she auditioned for a spot at the Curtis Institute of Music. She was accepted, and violinist Jascha Brodsky (who was 83 years old at that point) took her on as a student. Hahn worked with Brodsky until he passed away in 1997, after which she worked with Jaime Laredo. Splitting her time between home schooling and the Curtis Institute, Hahn completed her high-school diploma and bachelor's degree requirements by the time she was 16; she opted to remain at the school until 1999, taking literature classes and honing her performance skills.
Hahn gave her first full recital at Peabody in 1990, and she made her major orchestral debut a little over a year later, performing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She made her European debut four years later at age 15, appearing on a radio broadcast with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Sony Classical came forward with a record deal one year later, and her first album, Hilary Hahn Plays Violin, came out in 1997. Hahn debuted at Carnegie Hall soon after, and the album sailed to the top of the Billboard classical charts. Her second recording, Beethoven Violin Concerto/Bernstein Serenade, hit stores in 1999, and Hahn performed her first commissioned work, the Edgar Meyer Violin Concerto, in September of that year. A recording of that piece was released the next year (Barber & Meyer Violin Concertos), followed by 2001's Brahms & Stravinsky Violin Concertos, which went on to earn a Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance. Hahn released one more album with Sony, 2002's Mendelssohn & Shostakovich Concertos, before signing a deal with Deutsche Grammophon in 2003.
Hahn was essentially considered a world-class violinist by the time she signed with her new German label in 2003. She found herself in high demand over the course of the next few years, making numerous appearances, releasing several more albums, contributing to a motion picture soundtrack (2004's The Village), and collaborating with the indie rock group ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. Along with more typical classical recordings, she also collaborated with German prepared piano player Hausckha (a.k.a. Volker Bertelmann) on 2012's Silfra. ~ Margaret Reges